The loss of etiquette in the new age of concerts

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Taylor Swift fans show off their unique concert bracelets. Photo courtesy of Emma Powers.

Looking at Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour, Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour and now most recently Olivia Rodrigo’s sold out Guts Tour, one might look at these major events and call this year the age of concerts. 

It seems like ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has cooled down, people are taking advantage of any mildly popular social event out there, especially if that means seeing their favorite singers. Still, many have observed that concerts simply aren’t like they used to be anymore.

A main change in mainstream concert culture has been the concept of “concert etiquette.” Concert etiquette, as described by Wikipedia, is a collection of “social norms observed by those attending musical performances. These norms vary depending upon the type of music performance and can be stringent or informal.” In recent years it seems to be that people have entirely forgotten how to show basic respect at musical functions. Some great examples of this are the trend of throwing things on stage that cause injury and the trend of selectively being on electronic devices during the entire performance.

From Harry Styles, to P!nk, to Cardi B – many performers have been assaulted on stage due to their fans throwing various items at them. “The Today Show” listed several cases, with one of the more famous examples of this being the Cardi B situation. While performing in Las Vegas, Cardi B had a drink thrown at her, in which she responded by hurling her microphone at the perpetrator. A similar occurrence happened with the pop singer Bebe Rexha. During a New York City performance, a fan chucked a cellphone, hitting Rexha directly in the eye, and sending the singer to the hospital.

Some believe that the rise in toxic fan behavior during these concerts is because of lockdowns during COVID-19. According to an article from The Guardian, the isolation of many people for an extended amount of time led to bubbling over into outward unruliness at social gatherings. These social rules of conduct at concerts, such as following venue rules, not throwing objects at performers and being conscientious of fellow fans, are essential for allowing everyone to be safe and enjoy the concert. 

Another negative trend within concerts recently can be seen within the ticketing industry. Ticket prices have been astronomically rising due to inflation, but mostly due to corporate greed regarding the monopoly in the ticketing industry. The most well known and used website for buying concert tickets, Ticketmaster, has an iron fist upon the ticketing market – allowing them a great amount of control regarding ticket sales, distribution and prices. This was only worsened when LiveNation, another concert focused company, merged with Ticketmaster. The corporation now controls 70% of the ticket-selling and live events industry. 

Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour was one of the biggest concert tours in recent times. Her tours have racked up around $2.2 billion dollars. When the concert was announced, it seemed like everyone and their mother were vying to snag The Eras Tour tickets. 

The main distributor for these tickets was none other than Ticketmaster, and the disaster that ensued the moment Swift’s tickets went on sale will be ingrained within concert history forever.

When Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster opened pre-sale ticket sales on Nov. 15, 2022, the entire website crashed due to the millions of fans attempting to buy tickets. 

“Verified fans who had tickets for LoverFest, like we did, were supposed to have ultimate priority. We weren’t able to get tickets when sales opened up, but second-chance tickets were sent out randomly after the disastrous presale, which is how we were able to go ultimately! In 2017 and 2019, when we got tickets for the Reputation Stadium Tour (Rep Tour) and LoverFest, the demand was still high, and the process was very frenzied, but this time was so much worse,” said junior English major Emma Powers. 

In a statement by Ticketmaster, they said, “Over 3.5 million people pre-registered for Taylor Swift Tix Presale powered by Verified Fan, which is the largest registration in history.” The speed and numbers in which Swifties flocked to the website overwhelmed their servers and basically broke the site. This was a disaster for fans, with Ticketmaster saying, “It usually takes us about an hour to sell through a stadium show, but we slowed down some sales and pushed back others to stabilize the systems. The trade off was longer wait times in queue for some fans.”

The insanely long queue wait also disheartened fans, and additional fees added during the checkout process sent many Swifties into a rage. Another problem was resellers overcharging fans for tickets. The Varsity reports, “One Taylor Swift ticket for a New Jersey show was $12,000 USD, though they were supposed to sell for up to $449 USD when first released,” which is a disgustingly high markup compared to the original price. 

A newfound time of fan entitlement and the death of concert etiquette is destroying the comfort and joy which concerts originally provided for fans. The live music industry is in desperate need of change – and most importantly a change in fans’ attitudes.

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